Monthly Archives: November 2009

Webcast Exploring the Water Utility Resource Center – December 2nd

We’ve decided to repeat our webcast that explored the Water Utility Resource Center and gave an overview of ESRI Enterprise License Agreements for water, wastewater and stormwater utilities.  When we offered this webcast last month we had to 2 completely full sessions and hand a good number of people registered on a waiting list.  So we thought it would be best if we gave everyone another opportunity to participate in these webcasts.

On the webcast we’ll briefly touch on the business drivers for water utility GIS and then demonstrate the templates currently available on the Water Utility Resource Center.  We’ll than explore the ELA as an licensing mechanism for water utilities.

We’ll also have time to answer your questions at the end of the webcast.  We had some excellent discussions about water utility GIS during our November webcasts, so we encourage you to bring your questions.

You can sign up for the December 2nd webcast here:

We’ve had a lot of great comments from the water utility GIS community saying that we should do water utility GIS focused webcasts more often.  So starting in January 2010, we are also planning on doing a series of monthly webcasts focused on water, wastewater and stormwater GIS.  We tentatively planning on a webcast focused on ArcGIS Water Distribution Capital Planning template in January.  We’ll post more details shortly.

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Thanksgiving Facts from Esri

Thanksgiving Turkey by Catherine Spisszak

Before you gather with your families to enjoy those Thanksgiving dinners, feast your eyes on these holiday themed facts from Esri:

  • There are 43 businesses in the U.S. that are classified specifically as turkey farms (SIC Code 025301).
  • There are 47 cranberry growers in the U.S. (SIC Code 017101), 42 of those are in Wisconsin.
  • 16 businesses in the U.S. are classified exclusively as cider mills (SIC Code 017503), 13 of them are in Michigan.
  • The Market Potential Index for used stuffing mix/product in last 6 months in Harvest, Alabama is 111, indicating that the demand is 11% higher than the national average.
  • Mayflower City, Arkansas is the place to go for pies. The Market Potential Index for using no bake cake/pie in last 6 months is 163, 63% higher than the national average. They are also 32% more likely to use a packaged pie crust in the last 6 months than the US as a whole. And, they are 30% more likely to use pudding/pie filling in the last 6 months than the national average.
  • In Maize City, Kansas, the average amount spent on canned corn is 2% below the US average. The households in this city spend $8.20 a year on canned corn on average.
  • In Turkey Town, North Carolina they are about 4% more likely to cook turkey or chicken (fresh or frozen) than the US average.
  • In Fall City, Washington, the Market Potential Index for using gravy or sauce in the last 6 months is 116, or the demand is 16% higher than the U.S. average.
  • In Plymouth, Massachusetts, households spend close to $40 a year on potatoes which is 5% less than the U.S. average.
  • Finally, in Pecan Grove, Texas they spend 63% more on fresh pies, tarts and turnovers than the U.S. average.

All of the Esri Data referenced above, including the business counts, are available in the Business Analyst products. For more information about Esri Data please visit

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Enjoy the turkey and pie.

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Using Eclipse Faces Config Visual Editor

By default, the ArcGIS Web Project template that come with the ArcGIS Server plug-in for Eclipse IDE extends Eclipse Dynamic Web Project template.  This provides the base for a Web Mapping Application which is a Java Server Faces (JSF) application.  When you open the faces-config.xml file in the Eclipse editor, the source xml file opens up which may be difficult to navigate and edit for some.  The Web Tools Platform (WTP) JSF tools have been provided with Eclipse Java EE bundles since the Ganymede release and to take advantage of the faces-config visual editor in your ArcGIS Web Project you need to do the following in your Eclipse Developer Environment: 

  1. Before you start, rename your projects web.xml (e.g. web_orig.xml) as this process will create a new web.xml file and overwrite the projects web.xml.  The Web ADF ArcGIS Web Project depends on the web.xml file that the Web ADF plug-in creates so we don’t want to overwrite it.  
  2. Right click on your Project and select Properties.
  3. In the Properties dialog select ‘Project Facets’ from the left hand selection and check the ‘JavaServer Faces’ Project Facet.  
  4. Click on the ‘Further configuration required’ link near the bottom of the dialog. 
  5. Accept the ‘Server Supplied JSF Implementation’ in the JSF capabilities dialog and click OK. 
  6. Now click the OK button in the Project Properties dialog.  
  7. Finally, delete the web.xml file that was generated by the JSF Facets dialog and rename your original file you changed in step 1 back to web.xml. 

When you double click on your faces-config.xml file, the Faces Configuration Introduction page should open and you are now ready to use the visual editor capabilities to edit your faces-config file. If this did not happen, simply right click on your faces-config.xml file and select ‘Open With’ to ensure that the ‘Faces Config Editor’ is the default editor.


Once your faces-config file is opened inside the visual editor you will notice different tab options at the bottom of the editor which allows you to visually edit different aspects of the faces-config file.  For example, to edit the Managed Beans in your application, you can click on the ‘ManagedBean’ tab to open the editor, then add/remove beans or select a bean to edit. 


While many of our Eclipse Plug-in tools take care of editing your projects faces-config editor, enabling the visual capabilities on your project simplifies situations when you need to do some manual edits to the file.  



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Investigating natural hazards with ArcGIS Explorer

After yesterday’s post on earthquakes it seems appropriate to highlight a recent GIS Education Community blog post on investigating natural hazards with Explorer. Joseph Kerski takes a closer look at a landslide in Washington, making good use of Explorer’s ability to work with a wide variety of data including layer packages. All of the data is downloadable as an ArcLesson too.

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Geoprocessing Videos

In case you haven’t noticed, there are some really good video showing some enhancements to the Geoprocessing framework at 9.4 and demos of the new scripting capabilities using Python.

To check them out go to Geoprocessing Resource Center and click Video

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Symbolize polygon feature as points

Question: We have a building (polygon) layer and I have symbolized the polygon features using point symbols based on the caption field. If I make a selection of this feature and “create layer from selected”, or export the feature the result is again a polygon, but the symbol properties are only always polygon choices. I cannot for the world imagine what I may have done to be able to symbolize the polygons as points. If I change the symbology in any way the feature reverts somehow and can only be symbolized as a polygon???

How did I do this and more importantly how can I recreate it?

Thanks so much

Answer: Given the phrasing you used, I’m going to first differentiate between symbols, data, and layers, to ensure my explanation has better likelihood of making sense.  First there are three basic kinds of vector features, points, lines, & polygons.  In ArcGIS the symbology methods follow suit, marker symbols, line symbols and fill symbols. The symbols are not stored as data (cartographic representation symbology is the exception to that, but I’ll leave that out of this discussion for simplicity’s sake).  A symbol is used to draw a vector feature’s geometry, but only the symbol type that corresponds to the geometry type.  In ArcGIS layers are a way to store the assignment of symbols for a given feature class; and layers are stored inside Map Documents (.mxd) and Layer Files (.lyr).

So, I’m not exactly certain of how you created the enclosed image–it’s possible to do so with a marker fill, but depending on the size of the polygon the marker may not draw, it’s possible to use cartographic representation symbology to do a better job, and it’s also possible to label polygons with a marker symbol.  These methods all represent more work for you to both perform, and to explain to others.

The best option and easiest is to use the Feature to Point tool which will create a (centroid) for each polygon, and include the attributes you need to symbolize the points.  This requires and ArcInfo license.  Then you can just use a marker symbol for the resulting points. This is the least amount of work for not just you, but also your organization.

If you don’t have an ArcInfo license, you can instead use the Calculate Geometry tool in ArcMap to calculate the X and Y centroid coordinates for each polygon–you will need to add two new fields [type = floating point or double] to your buildings, one for the X coordinate and one for the Y coordinate.  Then in ArcMap open the table and right click on each field’s name, and choose Calculate Geometry.

Once you have those two fields, you can use the Add X Y data tool (on the tools menu in ArcMap) to create a point dataset.

Attachment: screen shot

Formerly a Mapping Center Ask a Cartographer  Q & A.


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Business Analyst Online Silverlight™ API Available on the Resource Center

 by Garry Burgess

We are pleased to announce the release of the Business Analyst Online Silverlight™ API.  This new API enables you to create rich internet and desktop applications that utilize the powerful market analysis capabilities of ESRI Business Analyst.

The Business Analyst Online Silverlight API extends the capabilities of ESRI’s core Silverlight SDK with methods to create trade areas, run demographic reports, produce comparative analytics and the like. This new API greatly shortens the development time for creating Silverlight applications that utilize the Business Analyst Online API and makes it easy to develop using Microsoft’s Expression Blend and Visual Studio.

Version 1.1 of the Business Analyst Online Silverlight API is now available for download on the ArcGIS Server Resource Center.

The new Resource Center page for the Silverlight API includes:

  • Download to the Silverlight assemblies for the Business Analyst API
  • A complete set of developer documentation replete with downloadable code samples
  • Object Model Diagrams
  • A working live sample of the Silverlight API that demonstrates the use of several Business Analyst Online Silverlight API components
  • A link to download the source code for the sample application

Version 1.1 of the core ESRI Silverlight SDK is required to use this API.  Details about ESRI Silverlight SDK including a download to the latest version can be found here:

Note – Silverlight 3 is now required with version 1.1.

Several blogs that illustrate how to use this new API will follow in the near future.  Stay tuned!

The Business Analyst Development Team

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Symbolizing the hillshade for the World Topographic map

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Symbolizing the Hillshade thumb

One of the things I promised myself that I would do last summer was write about some of the key design solutions used in the World Topographic Base Map. Our symbolization of the hillshade is one of the design characteristics that most distinguishes this map. The design intent was two-fold: 1) show shading similar to how hachures were used on hand-drawn maps [to see what I mean one of my favorite 18th century maps depicting the Battle of Bunker or properly Breeds Hill is a good example], and 2) display the low slope areas in white because this creates a ”non-competitive” background for data that is mashed up on this base map. Continue reading

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Exploring more earthquakes (let me count the ways)

This morning we awoke to the local news and reports of a big quake near Tonga, and also a couple of other sizable quakes near Sacramento. So we thought this might be a good excuse to explore several ways you can look at earthquake information using ArcGIS Explorer.

First, we went to the USGS earthquake site where we found a variety of earthquake information available in a number of different formats. As we looked at things we noticed that (as usual) there’s a lot of activity in Alaska and along the Kenai Peninsula. While we could have viewed things on the globe, we toggled ArcGIS Explorer to 2D mode then set our map projection to UTM Zone 6.

We first took a look at the KML found on the USGS site in Explorer.

We found a link to a time series KML in the popup window of the above KML, and took a look at that. Here we’ve pulled out the Explorer time slider to show the entire date range from 2007 to current.

Next we downloaded the .csv file, and added it to ArcGIS Explorer using Add Content, then choosing text files. By adding from the .csv file we could choose from a variety of attributes to display in the popup window.

Using the same text file from above we opened it in ArcCatalog as a feature class, creating a shapefile, and set the projection to WGS84 (the same as the input lat/long coordinates).

In ArcMap we used graduated symbols to show the quake events in different sizes and colors. Using the layer properties we turned off some fields and created aliases for others, then toggled on the HTML popup property. And then we exported it as a layer package which we added to ArcGIS Explorer.

And finally we connected to the GeoRSS feed to view the dynamic live feed from the USGS.

So that makes 5 ways that we used the data available from the USGS.

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ArcGIS RIA Developers: QueryTask not returning all your features?

All web mapping developers eventually face the challenge of optimizing the number of features that are displayed at each zoom level. This is especially true when designing web mapping applications for the best possible end-user experience. In fact, one of the most common problems is when a QueryTask occasionally returns only a portion of the requested features. When this happens you’ll see a result similar to the one shown in the screenshot below where large areas of point data are missing.

Some Questions to Consider

The good news is there are solutions to this problem. What’s happening is that in ArcGIS Server 9.3 and 9.3.1 there is a default configuration file setting that limits the number of records that can be returned for query, find and identify operations on a map service. The default setting is 500 records. However, before making any changes we recommend that you first consider these questions and their impact on the end-user’s browing experience.

  • Work-Flows: Do your end users workflows really require viewing 500 features all at the same time?

Example: Re-examine how end-users use your app. Have them walk you through the steps they need to accomplish their daily tasks. Pay attention to the zoom-level they are using. Do they zoom out really far before using their query or visualization tools? Maybe a search tool, or bookmarking tool will help them better manage zooming in and out of common locations.

  • Server Performance: Have you considered how this will affect your server’s performance? Queries that return more features are also more CPU intensive. How heavily used is the server, for example are there many users accessing it at the same time?

Example: Watch the CPU usage (e.g. Windows Task Manager) on your server during the heaviest usage period of the day. 

  • Roundtrip Times: How long does it take for your end user to get a response back from the server? If the server is working harder to process a larger result set, then its response times will increase. And, larger result sets also mean more work for the client app before the data is displayed.

Example: Time how long it takes for the query to complete before and after you make any changes. If your current query response times are already fairly slow, then the performance is only going to get worse if the users can return more records. And, if your end-users are running queries over and over again, then any perceived delays will start to add up.

  • Browser Performance: Have you tested your app’s performance on both FireFox and Internet Explorer?

Example: Test out the end-user workflows with all the features loaded and then pan-and-zoom around, or switch between layers. If you are using Windows, turn on the Performance Monitor so you can look at client-side CPU usage. If the browser responds sluggishly with 500 or fewer features or points, and CPU usage spikes, then you should consider reducing the number of features the end-users can access at a time. 

One Solution via Client-side Code

One possible solution is to limit the zoom level at which certain features are display, and then only query for features that exist within the visible extent. This concept is described in more detail in the Design Patterns for Web Maps blog post by the ArcGIS Server team, under the section titled “Strategies for displaying operational layers.” Basically, this pattern provides you with a graceful mechanism for controlling the amount of area that can be queried at any one time. Here is a live code sample that demonstrates the concept. Note that this sample uses a helper library called jsUtilities.js that retrieves graphics from only the part of the extent that changed. And, here is a psuedo-code snippet showing how to implement the helper library:

          if (currentLevel >= 16) {
            var queryPolygon = extent.erase(previousExtent);

Changing the MaxRecordCount Setting 

If you’ve considered the items mentioned above and you still need to adjust the MaxRecordCount based on your requirements, then here are the steps to change ArcGIS Server’s default setting:

  1.  Go to your service configuration file directory, and locate the appropriate configuration file:
  2. <ArcGIS install location>Serverusercfg<configuration file name>.cfg

  3. Change the MaxRecordCount setting:
  4. <MaxRecordCount>500</MaxRecordCount>

  5. Restart ArcGIS Server services.
  6. Test the change. If you experience time-outs, or the client performs poorly with the larger data sets, try reducing the MaxRecordCount, restarting the services, and testing again.

Additional References:

Design Patterns for Web maps

Five Steps to Better Performance (13.5 MB)

Help Doc for Service Configuration Files

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